What NOT to say to the bereaved


Since Yvonne moved into the house next door, I have found a kindred soul with whom I can discuss ANYTHING. I do mean anything.

glory 002 Today, on our way to “Glory” we got off on the subject of what not to say to the bereaved.

She lost her husband, J. Paul Thaxton, two years ago, and she knows first hand what you do NOT want to hear.

First, let me tell you about J Paul.  He was the most gentle soul who had the dubious distinction – at least in Starkville – of being one of two outstanding high school football players to receive a scholarship to Ole Miss.  Of course, that endeared me to him immediately.

He was a master needle pointer who always reminded me of the refrigerator – that professional football player who enjoyed needlepoint.

His work was beautiful  – even on the “other side.”  I always admired him and can see him now, barbecuing out back on the first outdoor kitchen I ever saw.

But back to the topic.  Yvonne told me the one thing that she could NOT abide was people telling her that “He was in a better place.”  She was infuriated by this – because she had been left behind.  When you lose a loved one, it’s about YOU, not the departed.  She wanted to scream, but she understood that people really don’t know what to say on such an occasion.

And never tell them that time will heal all wounds.  They don’t want to hear that.  Time has no meaning in those hard times.

Don’t ask them what they can do to help.  Just do it.  She recalls a neighbor coming over and mowing her yard. She recalls the lady who does her nails brought food to the house.  These are true manifestations of love and concern. These make a difference.  Signing a guest book is nice, but a gift of giving of yourself in some way is so much nicer.

What does Yvonne recommend that you  say?  “I’m so sorry.”  Nothing more, nothing less. How simple.  How profound.

2 thoughts on “What NOT to say to the bereaved

  1. I believe it was Rosie Grier, the football player who was with Robert Kennedy when he was assasinated, who did needle point. I could be wrong….Refrigerator MIGHT have, but Rosie (or is it Rosy) did for sure.

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